Photo Blog

Photography and assorted thoughts


Point Reyes

You’ve got to admire the folks who ran lighthouses.
Typically when you need them most the weather is the worst. Considering that this lighthouse was in service it started out with an oil lamp, you couldn’t sleep through the night. So the folks who maintained it were truly shift workers.


Edges of the day

I was out about 6 months ago with Catherine Etherton, and she was saying that you get your best photos on the edges of the day.

This was one of those evenings where I felt compelled to get the camera out and take pictures. To paraphrase Jay Maisel, you should always carry a camera with you. One of the advantages of the little Fuji X-100T is that it makes it easy. For those of you who keep track, this was underexposed by 1 stop to bring the colors out.


Hawkquest Kestel

I still enjoy shooting digital. Earlier that day I took this picture of an American Kestel.

In her case, I was enjoying the delicate coloration.
With the D810, I can print much larger than I can with my 35mm film cameras.
To paraphrase Thom Hogan, there are no magic camera settings. In the case of the high resolution Nikons, they reward you by giving great results when you pay attention to good technique.


Hawkquest Owl

One of the things I’ve been learning about is processing film. This photo was taken at a Hawkquest event using Ilford HP5+.

The folks at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center offer an Intro course for processing film and using an enlarger. The instructor, Michael Snively, is excellent at guiding you along and letting you explore.
This wasn’t my first try at this print, but I ended up doing some dodging and burning. I also took pictures of this Owl with my digital camera, but instead of bits whirring around my hard drive, this is silver on a print.
While I’ve got a number of digital tools to turn color digital images into black/white, I wondered if I should do some real film black and white work.


Photographing Once in a Lifetime Events

Last week I was out with Gabe Biderman from National Parks at Night and a group of classmates photographing the Total Solar Eclipse.

Before the event I probably didn’t spend as much energy as my classmates trying to figure out the right exposures, I planned on seeing what the meter said and using that. Instead I just bracketed and figured I could pick the part of the experience I was interested in.
Here I was interested in the Solar Prominences. What appears to be small spots of red, are 10-100 times the size of the earth if you want to put into perspective.  This was one of my shorter exposures, 1/8000 of a second.  It separated the prominences from the corona. I know that others were bracketing since they wanted to show more of the corona.

I’m watching a class from David Hobby, and one of sections of his course is “Why do you take Pictures?”  In this case it’s to savor and share the experience.  From a scientific point of view, the folks at NASA were able to glean much more data from their jets in the stratosphere taking pictures of the eclipse.  For me, I will be able to look at these pictures and recall the emotions and this scene for the rest of my life. Having seen a partial eclipse in Chicago in the 60s, I had seen the moon obscuring parts of the sun.  But a total eclipse shows so much more.  As one of my friends says, watching a total eclipse will change your life.  I don’t know if it will change my life, but I feel much richer for having seen it.

I will say that it was the shortest two minutes I’ve spent lately. It reminds me of the days when I taking pictures of Space Shuttle launches, you end up spending your time dealing with the mechanics of documenting the event.

Here’s one of the pictures I took that shows the Solar Corona. The corona isn’t as bright, so you can’t see the prominences.


Orthodox Churches

Last weekend, I went out for a tour of some Orthodox Churches in Globeville with the Denver Architectural Foundation.
The folks on the tour were understanding of the fact that when they walked away to listen to Mr. Gallagher, I was off taking pictures, and I caught up with them. They were some beautiful churches. And since I hadn’t studied comparative religions since I was in high school it was wonderfully educational as well.


Night Photography in Denver

Tom and I went out with Armando and Melanie for some night photography with the Denver Photo Night Walk Community.  Here’s a shot that I took at the start of walk.

This was at the end of civil twilight where the sky and city lights are close to being the same intensity.

I was also impressed that there were still folks enjoying ice cream in temperatures a little below freezing. It’s a tribute to the flavor of their ice cream.


Three ski area view from the top of A-Basin

Yesterday, when I was skiing at A-Basin, I was struck by the view of Breck, Keystone, and Zuma bowl of A-Basin. For Memorial Day the conditions were very good. And once again, the best camera is the one you have with you. If I had know it would be that pretty, I would have brought my micro four thirds camera with in addition to my iPhone.

Three Ski Area view

Three Ski Area view



For a change, you get a post without a photo attached.   What I’d like to chat about today is backups.  If you haven’t backed up your photo library lately, you should.  Considering the time and energy you’ve spent taking photos it would be a shame to lose that.  I’m currently in the midst of running a backup so I mean what I say.

I’ve spent a number of years with a job title that translates as taking care of computers.  As we tend to say, there are two types of people.  Those who have lost data and those who will lose data.  So get in the habit of backing up regularly.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t lose data, but it minimizes how much you lose.

Earlier this year, I helped a coworker with her computer.  She had gotten it so virus ridden that you couldn’t even boot it.  And when I asked her, when she backed it up, I got the blank stare.  I was able to use some tools and save what was on it, but one of the things she wanted was her old photos.

And thankfully these days, backups are so much faster.  The backup I’m running now has backed up 16 GB of data in less than 15 minutes.  When I worked at Ampex in the 90s, it used to take us most of the weekend to backup 12 GB of data.  Of course now I have much more data.

For the Apple folks in the crowd, you’re covered if you leave your data on the disk and run time machine to an external disk.  If you have a mac laptop, plug in an external drive and trigger a time machine run, if you don’t want to wait for it to notice.  This only covers the data on internal disk.

If you keep most of your photos on an external disk, you will need to back that up separately.  These days I use Carbon Copy Cloner.  It does full backups as well as differential backups.  In other words, once you spend some time doing a full backup, you only have to wait for the files you’ve added lately to get backed up.  Considering that I have 2.5 TB of data in my full backup which took about 20 hrs, having the latest backup go quickly is a blessing.

And if you’re backing up to the little portable disk drives, consider replacing them at the 18 month point.  I had a portable hard drive for about 2 years, and it started having write errors.  The data on my internal hard drive was fine, but I went out and got another external for backups.

All of this is a really good first step.  It doesn’t cover things like disaster recovery.  If you really want to be safe from things like fires or floods, you need to make a second backup and send it off site.


Mikes Camera

Yesterday at the zoo, Mikes Camera had one of the demo days there.  It was interesting to try out some of Nikon’s serious telephoto offerings.  Not anything I will buy, but may rent if the need occurs.  Here’s a picture taken with one at the flamingo pool.


Flamingo Pool

Flamingo Pool